LA Times Fires Cartoonist Over LAPD Encounter

This cartoon by Ted Rall appeared in a May 11 blog post describing an alleged incident with the LAPD. Rall has since been accused of misrepresenting the incident, and fired. Image by Ted Rall, courtesy of the artist and the Los Angeles Times.

Did a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Los Angeles Times freelance political cartoonist pull a Brian Williams, or has the newspaper bowed from pressure from the Los Angeles Police Department in dismissing Ted Rall?

In a May 11 LA Times opinion piece decrying the LAPD’s crackdown on jaywalking, Rall described his own allegedly violent encounter with the police in 2001. A police officer allegedly handcuffed and ticketed him for jaywalking, and threw his license in the sewer. The cartoonist has since been accused of exaggerating the story.

(In Los Angeles, you can be ticketed for starting to cross after the red crosswalk signal starts flashing.)

In an update to Rall’s original story, the Times‘ editorial pages editor, Nicholas Goldberg, detailed the paper’s issues with Rall’s account as it compared to the evidence offered by the LAPD. Whereas Rall described a violent encounter in which onlookers were shouting, Goldberg noted, “the tape depicts a polite interaction.”

Additionally, while Rall claimed his complaint against the officer was dismissed, the police have produced records showing internal affairs repeatedly tried and failed to contact the cartoonist. Goldberg called the article “a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish.”

In his own defense, Rall, writing on aNewDomain, cites the poor audio quality of the tape, and alleges that this is the LAPD’s revenge for his “numerous cartoons critical of the Los Angeles Police Department’s abuse, corruption, and heavy-handed incompetence.”

He continues, “It was easier for the Los Angeles Times to throw a cartoonist under a bus than it was to stand by him in the face of institutional anger.”

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